Ghassan Zaqtan

Ghassan Zaqtan Poems

The birds' departure from his heart
leaves the plains white
where the story is white

Is there still time
to tell her,

The cart:
still lurches on since grandfather fled
the boggy fields
The family:

I ascend the seven levels
Of sleep
In sleep you are

He has to return to shut that window,
it isn't entirely clear
whether this is what he must do,
things are no longer clear

In Jabal Najmeh, by the woods, the wizard will stop me
by a passage for boats with black masts
where the dead sit before dawn in black garments and straw masks,

The one you accidentally found in the mirror

in its dark corner to be exact
was there alone thinking of you

befriending your solitude

By morning travelers knocked on her door
but she didn't wake
By noon a bird stirred her

Pretexts come with her absence
and with the waiting of boats between
noon and afternoon

I'm going to see how they died
going toward that wreckage
going to see them there

Evening didn't come without its darkness
we slept roofless but with cover
and no survivor came in the night
to tell us of the death of others.

Will the children forgive the generation
trampled by horses of war, exile and preparation for departure?
Will they think of us as we were:

The slain enemy
Think of me without mercy in their eternal sleep
Ghosts ascend the stairways of the house, rounding the corners
The ghosts I picked up from the roads

The letters in the widow's room
In the straw basket
On the bed purged of sleep
In the intention to fast which lurks

How strange are the days of salt
It is as if they belong to others
And like a well-plotted tragedy
Just brought to a close


He pointed for us . . .
this way.
And disappeared

Nothing's left to say between us
everything went
into the train that hid its whistle
in the smoke that didn't become a cloud

As he descends,
As we watch him descend,
As he conveys to us that he is
About to descend

What those intend who visit her house
Is palpably felt
So pure, so proud.

How I wish he had not died
in last Wednesday's raid
as he strolled through Nazlat al-Bir —
my friend with blond hair,

Ghassan Zaqtan Biography

Ghassan Zaqtan (Arabic: غسان زقطان‎) is a Palestinian poet, author of ten collections of poetry. He is also a novelist, editor. He was born in Beit Jala, near Bethlehem, and has lived in Jordan, Beirut, Damascus, and Tunis. His book “Like a Straw Bird it Follows me” translated by Fady Joudah was awarded the Griffin Poetry Prize , 2013. He is nominated among the short-listed award winners of the Neustadt International Prize for Literature 2014 / University of Oklahoma, perceived as the American Nobel Prize. In recognition of his achievement and contribution to Arabic and Palestinian literature, Ghassan Zaqtan was awarded the National Medal of Honor by the Palestinian president in June 2013. His name appeared for the first time in the fall of 2013 among the speculation list for the Nobel Prize in Literature. Ghassan Zaqtan’s work has been translated to English, French, Italian, Norwegian, German and other languages.)

The Best Poem Of Ghassan Zaqtan


The birds' departure from his heart
leaves the plains white
where the story is white
and sleep is white
and silence is the caller's icon.
A laugh of sand will sprout when the door is opened
from fear's angle, a hymn
for the grand winter, and the voices
of those who left long ago will jump like grasshoppers
when the door is opened.
Wait, wait a moment
for us to dry a moment
there's in our trace
a reckless lament
and a ceramic bird …
and watch for the necklaces on the ceiling
Why don't you turn the lights on
or be happy with sitting
and watch for the fruits on the ground
Your voice in my room exhausts the silence
the silence of pots
the silence of shelves
the silence of writing
the silence of lighting
and the silence of survival
which I have been gathering for years
with the patience of one who's alone with the garden in summer
or one who retrieves absence
the absence
that never stops.

Ghassan Zaqtan Comments

Mar Beltrán 18 February 2018

Me parece un poeta comprometido, que refleja claramente lo que le ha tocado vivir.

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